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Richter's use of his own private photographs heralded, from the late 1970s, a body of portraits connected with his inner circle of family and close friends. Such intimate subjects and personal themes seem, at first, to stand in stark contrast to the impersonal nature of his early work but Richter's recent portraits continue to explore the preoccupations that have been present from the outset, being both open to the viewer's gaze, yet impenetrable.

This characteristic may be observed in Richter's two portraits of Betty, his daughter, made in 1977 and 1988 respectively. The first possesses a stark, confrontational clarity. The second is softer and the subject turns away. The three portraits titled IG were made in 1993 and depict the artist's second wife, who is also depicted from behind. Lesende (1994) portrays Sabine Moritz, whom Richter married in 1995, shown absorbed in the pages of a magazine. The same averted gaze connects the artist's self-portrait of 1996 with the portrait of Ella, his youngest daughter, which was painted in 2007 and is shown here for the first time. Though personal, there is a sense that these portraits remain, as Richter has observed, a 'semblance'.

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Betty by Gerhard Richter, 1977
Private Collection
© Gerhard Richter, 2009

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